Blues Bounce Back, Win Game 4 vs. Sharks to Even Western Conference Final 2-2

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2019

St. Louis Blues center Ivan Barbashev (49), of Russia, celebrates with Alexander Steen (20) and Jay Bouwmeester (19) after Barbashev scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final series Friday, May 17, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The St. Louis Blues had some bad luck cost them Game 3.

They didn't wait long to take control of Game 4 and even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece.

Ivan Barbashev scored in the game's first minute, and the Blues never trailed on their way to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

Tyler Bozak also scored for St. Louis, while goaltender Jordan Binnington bounced back from an ugly Game 3 to stop 29 of the 30 shots that went his way. 

The Blues defense also did an excellent job of protecting Binnington, blocking 21 shots, while the Sharks attack looked completely defanged until the third period. 

Coming back with such a strong performance is a testament to the Blues, who rightfully feel like they could have won Game 3 if it weren't for a missed call. Officials failed to call Timo Meier for a hand pass that set up Erik Karlsson's game-winning goal in the overtime period.

"I really didn't get an explanation other than, I guess, there's a different set of rules for two different teams, so I'm sure they'll lose some sleep tonight after looking at it," St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo told reporters after the loss.

The Blues came out like a team determined to send a message. Barbashev sent a shot rocketing into the back of the net just 35 seconds into the game, and St. Louis stayed aggressive throughout the first period to keep the puck largely in the San Jose zone. Bozak lit the lamp at the 17:53 mark off a rebound from Patrick Maroon, sending the Blues into the first intermission with a two-goal lead.

The second period was more evenly played, with the two teams trading off missed scoring opportunities. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones settled himself after a shaky start and wound up finishing with 20 saves on 22 opportunities. 

The third period was a completely different story entirely. If anything, it's the Blues who were the recipient of some good luck to avoid the game going into overtime. St. Louis' attack came out of the second intermission lethargic, seemingly willing to drain out the clock on a two-goal lead. It looked at times like the Blues were a team playing with a four- or five-goal lead rather than a two-goal advantage.

The Sharks, meanwhile, played one of their best 20-minute stretches of this postseason. They were dominant on both ends of the ice, consistently attacking on the offensive end while giving St. Louis few scoring opportunities. 

Tomas Hertl broke the scoring drought for San Jose at the 6:48 mark, and then the Sharks went about exhausting the St. Louis defense in an effort to come back. The puck stayed in the Blues zone for a majority of the period, with seemingly every other possession resulting in a near-goal.

The final two minutes were a frenzied affair where San Jose time and again got good scoring chances only to be thwarted by Binnington. It was the type of win that one could say is karmic after the sour way Game 3 ended.

Either way, this is a whole new series with three games to play. It's all on both teams to find their "luck."

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